Bulldogs! is a reworked version of a previous release for FATE version 3, re-released for Fate Core (there was also a d20 version). It is a game centered on the Bulldogs, space truckers for the TransGalaxy corporation involved in hauling Class D cargo in aging rust-bucket freighters, the shipments nobody else wants to take. Characters sign on with TransGalaxy for 5 years, and ply the space-lanes in a galaxy far, far away, in the wild Frontier Zone straddling the democratic but ruthless Union of the Saldralla and the theocratic Devalkamanchan Republic.
Bulldogs! is complete with Fate rules included, but the presentation may be a bit back-to-front. In exposing how a character is constructed, some Fate features may not be immediately explained, so people totally new to Fate reading this might need to flip through some pages and get things straight before making choices for their character's Aspects, Skills and Stunts.
Characters can be of 10 principal alien species: human-like Arsubarans, intelligent Robots, and 8 more, which were well-written and not just humans in funny costumes. Each species has species aspects and special abilities which cost Refresh points. Attitudes and sample names round out each description. Guidelines are also given to create your own species.
Characters cannot be created without first considering the TransGalaxy Ship they are in, and their Captain (usually but not always an NPC). Characters have 7 starting Aspects, but two are reserved for Aspects relating to your species heritage, one is tied to your the reason why you signed with TransGalaxy (which is your "Trouble" in this game), one to your relationship to your Captain, and two more Aspects resulting from how you "crossed paths" with Crewmates. Characters have a whopping 6 Refresh (but less if you pick a species with lots of inherent abilities, or if you want more than 2 Stunts or 2 Gear points.) Money is abstracted by 10 Credit boxes for major purchases -- but as a Bulldog, you have 9 of those checked, meaning you are in the debt of TransGalaxy principally.
The "dials" of these Fate Core rules are set up for bold action. There are 4 Conditions each with its own kind of Stress track: Winded, Angry, Stunned and Broken. Using up a track will lead to a Consequence related to that Condition, and depending on the level the Consequence may take some time to remove. Armor is in Mild (-2), Moderate (-4) or Severe (-6) varieties, obviously built to absorb stress of those magnitudes. Energy shields can be added to absorb even more as well. Weapons have light, medium and heavy categories and, depending on their category, can "bypass" one or more lower Conditions to deal Stress on a higher track. So weapons and armor can be powerful science-fiction tropes but operating on a soft, squidgy being who doesn't have much inherent defense. Like I said, a game built for bold, swashbuckling rock 'em sock 'em action.
There follows a standard discussion of Fate rules, a slightly reworked list of 18 Skills, and a discussion of Stunts appropriate to each Skill and the setting's style. Gear is covered: equipment meant to rise above the mundane, with information on creating your own and figuring out the gear's worth in Gear Points. Spaceship rules and combat are described. TransGalaxy is paying for your ship, fuel and basic maintenance, but refuses to pay for your adventurous "excursions" or ammo for combat or anything else you might have to do despite company policy! Larger categories of spaceships have more of the lesser Stress Tracks, and their powerful weapon categories can again "bypass" the lower Stress tracks of enemy ships. There follows information about Conflict design (including villains and their minions), and tying them together to make lengthy Adventures. A couple of pages on setting up campaigns with other kinds of characters rounds out the book.
All told, this is a strong, action-oriented Fate game with colourful aliens and working-stiff ethic!
[5 of 5 Stars!]